MT. EPHRAIM, N.J., OCT. 27–Over the past few decades, Barb’s Harley-Davidson has supported countless causes—sports team fundraisers, veterans’ advocacies, law enforcement charities and the like. These charities have long reaped the benefits of owner Barb Borowiec’s sponsorship, and a number of them turned out for Barb’s H-D 25th anniversary party the last Saturday in October.
By the time I arrived at Barb’s, the shindig was in full swing. After two hours on the road I was pretty hungry, so I grabbed lunch from one of the food vendors and joined some Camden County H.O.G. members at one of the tables under a big tent. The band Barometer was rocking out onstage, sports figures were signing autographs and posing for photo ops, and folks were perusing the booths set up in the dealership’s lot.
Several vendors were onsite, such as Woodling Air Brush and Pinstriping who displayed a series of beautifully airbrushed gas tanks, and Nice Ash Cigars that drew all the stogie aficionados. On the far side of the lot were some toy haulers brought in by White Horse RV out of Williamstown, New Jersey. In honor of Barb’s 25th, they were running a special sale on models ranging from a basic little fifth wheel up to a 37-foot luxury liner. My bikes and I could easily live in one of those.
For the most part, the remainder of the displays that were set up had something to do with organizations participating in, and encouraging, charitable giving. Jim’s Jarhead Jerky had a colorful, patriotic exhibit manned by owner Jim Ewen, a U.S. Marines veteran out of Medford, New Jersey, who has donated over 2,000 pounds of beef jerky to troops serving overseas, many of whom seem to prefer the homemade jerky over their MREs. Next to Jim’s Jarhead Jerky was a booth set up by Hero Emergency Response Operation (H.E.R.O.) and the Wish Upon a Hero Foundation. H.E.R.O. is composed of military veterans who grant the wishes of people in their local community, and the Wish Upon a Hero Foundation also grants the wishes of those with needs.
The NJ Extreme Wheelie Machine was taking donations for Helping a Hero Ride, a community effort to assist local wounded hero Pisey Tan, Sgt. 1st Class, U.S. Army. Sergeant Tan had been deployed to Iraq when, in 2005, he lost both his legs due to an I.E.D. attack. The courageous soldier has relied on his will to succeed, with the help of his friends and family, to ride a bicycle again! The $10 entry fee for Barb’s custom bike show was earmarked to benefit Sgt. Tan, as well.
Two Philadelphia police officers manned a table in memory of Philly police officer Brian Lorenzo, who was struck head-on by a drunk driver while riding his department motorcycle. Lorenzo had been a member of the Philadelphia Highway Patrol Drill Team, and his bike, with windshield etched in his memory, was there on display. A fundraiser to help support his wife and three children was also being promoted, and the officers were selling T-shirts, sweatshirts and patches with the money to benefit the family, as well.
Divas for a Cure, another organization sponsored by Barb’s, had a table staffed by co-founder and president, Jan “Sunny” Emanual-Costley, along with her husband Thomas “TC” Costley, co-founder and president of United States Black Cavalry Family. Divas for a Cure promotes breast cancer awareness and raises funds for breast cancer research. Jan has a personal interest in the cause—she is a three-time cancer survivor. Barb’s hosted the 3rd annual Divas for a Cure Breast Cancer Ride that took place at the dealership just a week before.
Barb’s H-D is one of the official sponsors of the Philadelphia Soul, Philly’s football team in the Arena Football League. The Soul were out in full force, with wide receiver Donovan Morgan and defensive end Bryan Robinson hanging out with fans. The lovely Soulmates cheerleaders were posing and performing dance routines, and Soul Man, the team mascot, was freaking everyone out with his rubbery, oversized face. He was in good company, though, as mascots from Chick-Fil-A and the River Sharks, Camden, New Jersey’s minor-league baseball team, were also messing around with folks in the crowd.
Several other celebrities were in attendance, as well. 94WIP Sports Radio hosts Joe Conklin and Al Morganti were on hand, with Conklin entertaining the crowd with his stand-up comedy-style patter. Former Philadelphia Eagles football players Mike Quick—now a 94WIP sports commentator—and Joe Pisarcik were on hand to sign autographs and pose for photo ops. In between fan requests, I sidled up to Pisarcik and mentioned that he was a year ahead of me when he played high school football in my hometown. He was polite, but not impressed. I guess he didn’t want to be reminded that was over 40 years ago. And then I remembered a similar exchange at Barb’s 20th anniversary party in 2007. Maybe I’ll try a different approach for Barb’s 30th.
Accompanying the Eagles stars were the Philadelphia Eagles Pep Band composed of Bruce Mulford on bass, Tony “Skull” DeMeo on banjo and guitar, and sax players Brian Saunders and Bobby Mansure. The band is in its 15th season, and they’re not what you’d expect from a pep band. These guys play some badass blues. They played a set on the stage, and then continued to entertain folks inside the dealership.
Early in the afternoon, the stage was taken over by Barb’s H-D Fall Collection fashion show. Every year, the dealership’s customers volunteer to saunter down the catwalk, revealing the latest Harley fashions. It was rather unique for a fashion show, as the models spanned the spectrum all the way from infants to post-baby boomers.
Just before the bike show winners were revealed, a surprise visitor stopped by. New Jersey Senator Donald Norcross awarded Barb with a Joint Legislative Commendation for the tremendous efforts made on behalf of our veterans and their families, and congratulated her upon celebrating 25 years of business. The commendation mentioned some of Barb’s accomplishments over the years, but the plaque would have had to be a lot larger to include them all. One major achievement was Barb’s lobbying to allow Sunday motorcycle sales in New Jersey, and with the help of Senator Norcross, a bill was signed into law in 2011.
Barb started riding motorcycles at the age of 17, and her love of the sport had her working at Camden County H-D in 1983. In 1987, still at a very young age, Barb and two partners purchased the dealership. In short order, she bought out her partners and renamed the dealership Barb’s Harley-Davidson. Barb grew the dealership from seven employees in a 5,000-square-foot building to 50 employees in a 38,000-square-foot building. In 2005 she opened a satellite store in the Philadelphia Airport, and that store has since doubled in size. Barb, with a big smile on her face as she watched the bikes that kept rolling in, said, “Over the years we have met so many great people—customers who have become friends; friends who have supported us from the first building to the fourth. We are happy to have so many people celebrate 25 great years with us.”
The main store in Mt. Ephraim now offers Riders Edge training, and Barb supports a slew of fundraisers for organizations such as the MDA, Relay for Life, the Ronald McDonald House, the Covenant House, the Voorhees Animal Shelter and others. Barb’s was the sponsor and organizer for the first annual Armed Forces Freedom Ride, which in its six years has raised over $120,000 for the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation and the Burlington County Military Affairs Committee. Barb explained, “We enjoy taking care of our customers and friends. They are part of our family. The support has allowed us to give back to our community in a big way. We proudly support Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and all military and their families everywhere, as well as all first responders who serve us every day.
Barb has donated motorcycles to causes such as the Eagles Fly for Leukemia, the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation, the Philadelphia Highway Patrol, the Jon Bon Jovi and Kenneth Cole RSVP to Help Fundraiser, and she donates a bike every year to the Philadelphia Flyers Wives Charities for their Flyers Wives Carnival. She has also received various community commendations and has been honored with numerous Harley-Davidson awards. At the time of this writing, the dealership is serving as a drop-off location for the U.S. Marines Reserve Corps Toys For Tots program, as well as a collection point for food and cleaning supplies to donate to victims of Hurricane Sandy.
At the conclusion of the presentation, the bike show winners were announced. Classes included Sportster, Big Twin, V-Rod, Full Dresser, Antique, Sportbike,
Radical Custom and Trike/Special Interest. Special awards included Best in Show, Mike Quick’s Pick and Al Morganti’s Choice. One special winner was Barb’s dad, trike rider Russ Borowiec who was grinning from ear to ear as he approached the stage to collect his trophy.
The dealership staff saved the best for last—the announcement of the 25 prizes to celebrate each year that Barb’s has been in business. Entries for the drawing were free to all visitors at the dealership and were being accepted up until mid-afternoon the day of the party. It took nearly half an hour to announce the first 24 prizes, many of which were donated by event sponsors. The big winner was a very happy Vito Acuazzo of Sewell, New Jersey, who now has a 2012 XL883L Sportster to add to his stable.
The event was organized by Chris Hudak, Barb’s marketing and promotions manager for the past 10 years. Chris commented, “I feel privileged to be here today, celebrating 25 great years of Barb’s Harley-Davidson. It’s been a great ride.”
Looking back over the past 25 years, Barb reminisced, “So many different people have appeared at Barb’s H-D—celebrities, bike builders, drag racers, stunt riders; so many sports figures, military dignitaries, TV and rock stars, government and community leaders, H-D Motor Company figures; I could not even begin to name them all. The list is huge.
“Good times and bad; easy times, hard times—I love being a Harley dealer. There’s nothing else I would rather do. And we will continue to give excellent service, top quality motorcycles and our very best to all of our customers. I am so enjoying the ride. It’s been an awesome journey, and there’s so much more to come.”